What you need to know... about the VUCA Economy
What is VUCA?
The U.S Army War College created the VUCA acronym to describe how we view the conditions in which we make decisions, plan forward, manage risks, foster change and solve problems. It stands for:
· Volatility - change that happens and what causes it
· Uncertainty - lack of predictability and inability to predict one exact outcome
· Complexity - variables that can make situations more complex
· Ambiguity - potential misunderstandings or mistakes that can come from complex or unclear information.
Army employees often work in environments which are chaotic and unpredictable, so instructions aren’t always readily available or relevant. Raghu Raman, former CEO of the Indian National Intelligence Grid and military officer, said there are 3 ways to prepare soldiers for a VUCA environment:
1. Make sure everyone in your team knows the organisation’s objectives. This will remove uncertainty from decision making and will make sure everyone is working towards the same goal.
2. Employees should be trained to go up to the next level. For example, in the army a section commander who commands 10 men should be taught how to command a platoon, a project manager should be taught how to become a senior project manager or business director.
3. Train people until what they learn becomes second nature, so they will be able to handle complex or difficult situations without having to go back and refer to what they have already learned.
How does it apply to workplace learning?
You may be thinking, how does the VUCA model apply to other workspaces? Surely the army’s work and learning environment is very different from an office or a shop?
It is true that the military deals with bigger changes and risks than most workplaces, but thanks to many different factors such as technological and social changes the rest of the world is changing at a rapid pace, so it’s great to have a learning policy that reflects an ever-changing economy and prepares employees for several possible outcomes.
Take England’s football coach Gareth Southgate for example. The England team won its first ever shootout at a World Cup because Gareth has been making his players practice penalties since March this year, so they would feel confident if they ever had to do it on the pitch. Thanks to this level of preparation and the fact that Gareth encourages his players to think independently on the pitch and react to whatever happens, rather than just carryout and perform instructions, the England team are now in the semi-finals of the World Cup.
If employers think about the VUCA model and how it might apply to their organisation, they can be ready for any situation.
How can I prepare my employees for a VUCA economy?
We can flip the VUCA model by taking the following approaches:
· Velocity – we need to act quickly and respond to the change that is happening around us
· Unorthadoxy – we need to find creative new approaches to problem solving, seize new opportunities and be willing to take risks
· Collaboration – we need to reach out to share new ideas, leverage the skill of others and seek feedback
· Agility – we need to learn from experience and change approaches accordingly
How Do I?’s video-led technology can provide quick and easy solutions for training your employees because microlearning can quickly teach them new skills and easily updated to reflect changes in your industry (read our blog on microlearning to learn more). Contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more about how microlearning can transform your business.
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